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The Illusionist 
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The Illusionist is one of a dying breed of stage entertainers. With emerging rock stars stealing his thunder in the late 1950s, he is forced to accept increasingly obscure assignments in fringe theatres, at garden parties and in bars and cafés. However, whilst performing in a village pub off the west coast of Scotland, he encounters Alice, an innocent young girl, who will change his life forever.
The Illusionist is a love letter from a father to his daughter. For Sophie Tatischeff, the daughter of Jacques Tati, comedy genius and French cinema legend, this touching correspondence could not be left undelivered. Catalogued in the CNC (Centre National de la Cinématographie) archives under the impersonal moniker ‘Film Tati Nº 4’, this un-produced script has waited half a century for hands to flick through its pages and realize its potential. Those eager hands belonged to Sylvain Chomet, the Oscar nominated and critically acclaimed creator of The Triplets of Belleville/Belleville Rendezvous, who enthusiastically rose to the challenge to fulfil an impossible dream--to once again bring the magic of the incomparable Jacques Tati to life.
The Illusionist (2010) is director Sylvain Chomet's homage to French writer-director-actor Jacques Tati, whose work he's loved for years: the three beldams in Chomet's The Triplets of Belleville even watch a clip from Tati's Jour de Fête in bed. Based on a script Tati wrote but never produced, the film focuses on a sleight-of-hand magician whose career founders as television and rock and roll supplant traditional entertainment. During a trip to a remote village in Scotland--where pub goers still appreciate his act--the magician encounters Alice, a teenage girl who works as a maid. When he departs, Alice follows him to Edinburgh, seeking a more glamorous life. In addition to his stage gigs, the Illusionist works at various odd jobs to support Alice, whom he treats as an adopted daughter. Like Triplets (and Tati's classic comedies), The Illusionist is told with only minimal dialogue. However, in place of the manic energy of Triplets, The Illusionist is permeated with a wistful melancholy for a fading era, a fading talent, and, ultimately, a fading relationship. The animation is more polished than in Chomet's previous films: a sequence of the drunken magician teetering around the lobby of a broken-down hotel is brilliantly drawn. The backgrounds of Edinburgh are beautifully rendered. The Illusionist won awards from several critics' groups in the United States, but it lacks the purity of vision of Triplets. The film represents a combination of Tati's and Chomet's sensibilities, rather than the pure work of either artist. It's a lovely film, but viewers expecting the take-no-prisoners absurdity of Triplets of Belleville will be disappointed. (Rated PG for thematic elements and smoking) --Charles Solomon
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It is well animated and has an interesting plot - Magicians do not exist,merely illusionists.
It took me a while after the film to comprehend why the Ventriloquist's dummy was offered for free
and why the girl was so interested in the television shop.
It made me laugh when it became clear the reason the illusionist wouldn't,at first,eat his rabbit stew.
There is lots of good humour and good observational comedy and depictions,especially with the language barrier.
To say this is just a commentary on the decline of the music hall circuit is an understatement.
There's tons of other stuff here too.It's not your usual Disney/Pixar or Dreamworks affair,nor is it meant to be,that's the point.
I was thoroughly entertained by this film and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it.
The decent DVD extras include: a seventy-five minute Q & A session (plus film clips) with Chomet, from the Edinburgh Film Festival; a brief look ‘behind the scenes’ at the making of the movie; and a slide show of stills - although one might find oneself pausing the actual film anyway, at regular intervals, to take in its exquisite widescreen visuals.
The reviews for this film have raised a multitude of points and observations, the majority of which are valid. My own views are thus:
The film oozes charm. Like Tati's own films, the devil is in the detail and there are some delightful touches, for example the cinema scene where they are showing Tati's 'Mon Oncle'.
The plot throughout is bitter-sweet, playing on the emotions and you are on the Magician's side from the start as he is swept aside by the latest fads.
The friendship between the magician and the little girl is adoreable but I think could have been expanded a little.
The animation is lovely and different from the run of the mill films churned out across the Atlantic. Viva la Difference!
All in all, this is a delightful film - perhaps more for adults than children, but a triumph nevertheless.
To say that the pace of `The Illusionist' is slow is an insult to the likes of snails and sloths. The film is incredibly laid back and animator/director Chomet is not going to rush for anyone. This acts as the magic that glues this eccentric film together; the slow pace is in perfect keeping with the wonderful animation and collection of eccentric characters. Although no dialogue is spoken in the film you are given indications of what is happening by body language and mutterings. The relationship between the Illusionist and the girl is not really explained and is open to some interpretation - I took it within the spirit of the film as a platonic relationship between two lost souls.
The ambiguity of the central relationship could be levied as an issue with the majority of the film. Who are these people, what are they doing, why should I care? Chomet creates a cold and standoffish story that some people will struggle to connect with. However, I found that the animation was excellent enough to draw you into the world and the feel that Chomet is trying to create. `The Illusionist' is a curio, but one with a warm heart.
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